In 1984 London Regional Transport commissioned me to carry out designs for the Northern and Piccadilly line underground platforms for King’s Cross St Pancras Station.


I wanted the concept to be consistent with the tradition and functions of the interior structure and work in sympathy with the architectural character of the space such as it was.  So I decided to use the most commonly used materials, ceramic tiles, and make sure the colours I used would relate well to the existing 1930s cream and blue tiles in the adjoining passageways.  Working with the London Underground resident architectural team Harry Rambissoon and Alan Spehnjak, we appointed Githa Jóns-Wells of Tessera Tiles to produce a range of finely modulated ceramic glazes on a robust red clay tile.


King’s Cross St Pancras is London’s largest terminal for main line travel to the north and down below in the tube people travel the length of the long narrow platforms both on foot and at speed in arriving and departing trains.  I decided to reflect this travel and movement aspect by making a gradation of colour from one end of each platform to the other and to pace out a series of feature panels at rhythmic intervals with related and developing patterns rather like frames of an animated abstract film.  The panels were abstract designs which were encrypted with the simple initial letters, a K and a +.  Since my paintings often deal with sequences of developing shapes with comparisons between two sides of the same painting, the solution was totally consistent with my painterly interests.


The tile-work was installed in 1986 and the same year a 10-metre full-scale section of the platform was exhibited in the ‘Britain in Vienna 1986 - British Design’ exhibition at the Kunstlehaus, Vienna.  It was subsequently acquired by the Technisches Museum, Vienna.

King’s Cross St Pancras, 1985

Piccadilly Line platform original state

Design in progress

Northern Line Northbound working drawing

Piccadilly Line Northbound working drawing

acrylic on paper

Northern Line Southbound working drawing

Piccadilly Line Southbound working drawing

acrylic on paper

Architect’s drawing with tiling instructions

Working model for Piccadilly Line Northbound

wood, paper and acrylic paint

Working model for Piccadilly Line Northbound

wood, paper and acrylic paint

Working model for Piccadilly Line Southbound

wood, paper and acrylic paint

Working model for Piccadilly Line Northbound

wood, paper and acrylic paint

Studio during design work

Work in progress at Tessera Tiles workshop

Work in progress laying terrazzo floor

Tiling work in progress

Northern Line Northbound

tiling work in progress

Northern Line Northbound

tiling work in progress

Northern Line Northbound

completed tile work

Northern Line Northbound

completed tile work

1986 - Kings Cross Station